online: 20 may 2002
modified: 20 may 2002, 23 may 2002

19 may 2002 are we changing the universe?

16:59 Having tea at Kenwood and still reading Spinoza. Yesterday I bought Samuel Shirley's recent translation of S's correspondence - said to be essential to understanding the bare logic of the Ethics. But I wonder... the inability of his correspondents to understand his meaning may come of their living at the time of Cartesian dualism which Spinoza's logic may superficiallyly resemble, but which it so profoundly transcends. Perhaps for us now, or for me, the bare logic of S's non-dualism is easier to grasp, or to be in tune with, than are his usually polite and patient explanations for dualists?

Just now I was reading in Stuart Hampshire's book that

perceiving, entertaining images, feeling emotions or having internal sensations, no less than thinking and judging, must be modifications of Nature conceived under the attribute of thought.
The word 'modifications' made me think. If this is true - that all mental activity is a change in reality - or is it reality in the act of changing itself? If so, then each of us is not just a victim of government or business, or of any other determinism, but is also the all powerful voice or thought of Nature-or-God (Spinoza's non-dualism - or connective duality, as I might call it).

Am I exaggerating? Well perhaps this is more than Spinoza thought or implied* but this is a different time - and to me this idea seems both inspiring and correct! The beginning of something new (if newness is allowed in the post-Spinozian world?).

The sky has become grey, the air cool, and most people have left. Those remaining have stopped eating and drinking and are staying at their tables to talk. They are changing the universe. Or rather it, or God-Nature, is changing itself. (Says he, as he rehearses the Spinozian theory, or perception.)

18.45 I talked for a few minutes with one of the waiters. He is from Bulgaria - where his wife and daughter are at present. During the week he works in construction. In Bulgaria he teaches sports. Another change in reality, and to my mind a good one - he seems to me more cultured than are most of us on this island... We laughed.

* Reading further I see that I may have misunderstood: Spinoza seems to say that conversation and such are secondary changes within Nature, not primary changes to nature or reality in itself? It will take me some time to grasp the whole theory, I think. Perhaps it will be more than I can grasp - but so far I feel more at home in it than in most of the theories I've encountered.

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© 2002 john chris jones

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